Clare’s U-20 hurling manager Sean Doyle is refusing to look past the challenge Kerry will provide in the Munster Championship.
With Clare travelling to face Kerry in Austin Stack Park next Monday evening (throw in 7.30pm), Doyle is keen to stress that he is only focusing on the challenge Kerry provide and not a potential provincial semi final against Limerick.
“We are going in to the unknown. We are not taking anything for granted. Kerry is our main focus and we aren’t looking beyond the challenge we face next Monday. They have been strong in the B schools competitions so we know it won’t be easy.”
Mark Rodgers is not eligible to play against Kerry as he has played under Brian Lohan in this year’s Championship. A new rule was passed this year which does not allow a player who enters the field in a tier 1 inter-county championship match, to play with their under-20 team in the same year, until the senior team has been eliminated from the championship.
Doyle believes this rule is unfair on not just Rodgers but for every county who has U20 players in a senior squad.
“I don’t think playing U21 and senior did Tony Kelly any harm or any lad who has done it before. It’s just a bit silly if you ask me. Mark kas played 20 minutes of a game and because of that he can’t play. Limerick and Cork have been hit by it too so it’s just a bit silly in my opinion. People want to see the best players in these competitions so I can’t say I’m a fan of the rule.”
Doyle possesses an impressive backroom team with Niall Gilligan added to the set up this year. The U20 manager has been impressed by Gilligan’s contribution to the backroom set up so far.
“I think he’s done really well since coming in. Niall is a guy with a lot of experience and he is great with the lads so we are happy with how it’s going. All of our backroom team are working hard and putting in the effort so we are hoping that we can get the performances out on the pitch now.”
Doyle’s backroom team comprises of Jim McInerney (Tulla), Ger Rodgers (Scariff), Val Murnne (Caherline,), Evan Kilroy (Gort), Jamie Fitzgibbon (S+C, Crsuheen), Niall Gilligan (Sixmilebridge). Shane O’Connell is physio while Darragh O’Rourke is the kitman.
With Mark Rodgers not permitted to play, Clare have some other fitness concerns heading in to the game. Shane Meehan is nursing a hand injury while Cian Galvin has a knee complaint. Corofin’s Cillian O’Connor is suffering with an ankle injury while Ian McNamara (finger) is also a doubt for the Kerry game.
Paddy Donnellan is captain of this year’s group and he can play due to not lining out in the senior Championship for Clare so far.
Clare have been knocked out at the first time of asking in the last two Munster U20 campaigns. However, this year’s group have plenty of experience with 12 of the team that started last year’s Championship game against Tipperary eligible to play again this year.
Despite some early exits in recent years and not lifting a provincial U20 crown since 2014, Doyle is optimistic about the strength of this year’s group.
“We have been a little bit unfortunate the last two years. We had five players miss last year’s game with Tipperary so that didn’t help. Last year is last year. We have a new group and we go again. Results have gone against us recently but we will try our best to give the lads every chance to succeed this year.”
by Ivan Smyth
In search of Kerry gold
Munster Under 20 Hurling Championship Quarter-Final
Clare v Kerry at Austin Stack Park Tralee, Monday 7.30pm (Peter Carroll, Tipperary)
There will be an inevitable rummaging through the cliche drawer this week as phrases such as banana skin will be thrown out to describe a rare provincial hurling clash between Clare and Kerry.
However, there won’t be a shred of complacency from Sean Doyle’s side on Monday evening as having not won a match in six previous attempts since qualifying for their fourth successive Munster Final with a rousing victory over Waterford in 2015, motivation or hunger certainly won’t be an issue.
Those previous reverses might not mean much for the current crop but what will sharpen their focus is the fact that their initial spine has been severely weakened over the past few weeks. Crucial senior panelists Mark Rodgers (ineligible having played in the Munster Senior Championship), Cian Galvin (injured) and Shane Meehan (injured), who all got game time in the National under Brian Lohan, will miss Monday’s opener at a minimum. And therefore without that natural leadership, it’s up to other to step up to the mark and get Clare back on track.
There’s no shortage of candidates either as the squad is comprised of a greatest hits compilation of the last three minor sides under the stewardship of another of the current senior crop in Broadford’s Paddy Donnellan.
Being knock-out, Clare’s eyes will be open to a potential ambush in Tralee as the hosts will be expected to throw everything at the Banner in the hope of justifying their position back in the top tier. After dominating the All-Ireland Minor and Under 21 B grades over the past decade, Kerry’s ambitious bid to climb through the ranks at provincial level at both age grades since 2020 is admirable and a clear sign of the ongoing work instilled by senior and Under 20 manager Fintan O’Connor.
Clare have had a major hand in Kerry hurling’s development too in recent years as Broadford’s Ollie Broughton, an All-Ireland Minor winner with Clare in 1997, was last year’s minor manager of the Kingdom while Clarecastle’s Patrick Kelly, also an All-Ireland winner for Clare at both Under 21 (2009) and senior (2013), is currently coaching the Kerry minors under Tadhg Flynn.
Clare and Kerry’s minors could only potentially meet in a Munster Final but in the meantime, Clare should have enough guile and winning know-how to meet fire with fire and advance to a semi-final against Limerick seven days later.
Clare Panel: Paddy Donnellan (Broadford, Captain); Adam Breen (Sixmilebridge), Cian Broderick (Clarecastle), Diarmuid Cahill (Corofin), Jarlath Collins Éire Óg), Tadhg Dean (Crusheen), Jack Enright (Newmarket-on-Fergus), Cian Galvin (Clarecastle), Mikey Gough (Smith O’Brien’s), Kealan Guyler (Inagh-Kilnamona), William Halpin (Tulla), Darragh Healy (Clarecastle), Conner Hegarty (Inagh-Kilnamona), Adam Hogan (Feakle), Kevin Keane (Corofin), Jack Kirwan (Parteen), Conor Leen (Corofin), James McGuire (Kilmaley), Dylan McMahon (Clonlara), Ian McNamara (Killanena), Shane Meehan (Banner), Aidan Moriarty (Clonlara), Robin Mounsey (Ruan), Cian Mulqueen (Broadford), Adam Mungovan (St Joseph’s Doora/Barefield), Liam Murphy (Wolfe Tones), Killian O’Connor (Corofin), Oisin O’Donnell (Crusheen), Colm O’Meara (Clonlara), Patrick Ryan (Scariff), Shane Punch (Ruan), Aaron Shanahan (Tulla), David Tuohy (Clarecastle), Sean Wiley (Bodyke)
Munster Under 20 Hurling Championship (Knock-Out)
Clare v Kerry at Austin Stack Park Tralee, Monday 7.30pm
Tipperary v Waterford at Semple Stadium Thurles, Monday 8.05pm
Limerick v Clare or Kerry at LIT Gaelic Grounds (if Clare) or Austin Stack Park (if Kerry), Monday July 19, 8.05pm
Cork v Tipperary or Waterford at Semple Stadium (If Tipperary) or Walsh Park (if Waterford), Tuesday July 20, 7.30pm
Final – Wednesday, July 28
by Eoin Brennan